Steve's Conclusion

Steve's SnapShot

  • 16-Megapixel BSI CMOS Imaging Sensor
  • 3.0-Inch LCD Screen
  • 24x Optical zoom lens: 25-600mm (35mm equivalent)
  • Dual Image Stabilization
  • Dedicated Video Record Button
  • iAuto mode
  • 1080p HD video recording
  • TruePic V image processor
  • Up to 31fps Hi Speed Burst (3M)
  • HDMI output
  • Rechargeable Li-Ion battery
  • SD/SDHC/SDXC memory card compatible
  • iAuto shooting mode is accurate and easy in all situations
  • Dedicated Video Capture Button is always ready to record
  • Face detection makes portraits as easy as ever
  • Good overall image quality
  • Dual Image Stabilization keeps images sharp
  • Very Fast Auto Focus
  • Nice, Bright 3.0-inch LCD
  • Decent shooting performance
  • Good Battery Life
  • HDMI output
  • Competitively priced
  • Weak pop-up flash
  • Some noise in all images / Normal with most 16-Megapixel image sensors
  • Noise also present in movies
  • Buffer fills very quickly when capturing full-sized images
Timing Test Results
  • Power up to first image captured = 1.6 seconds
  • Shutter lag when prefocused = less than 1/10 of a second
  • Shutter lag with autofocus = approx. 2/10 to 3/10 of a second
  • Shot to shot delay wo/flash = 1.54 seconds - buffer filled after 3 shots
  • Shot to shot delay w/flash = 1.66 seconds - buffer filled after 3 shots
  • Sequential burst = 4.29fps - 3 images
  • High Speed Burst 1 = 10.0fps - 3M
  • High Speed Burst 2 = 31.1fps 3M
  • All tests were taken using an SanDisk Extreme Pro UHS-1, 8GB SDHC memory card, Program Mode, ISO auto, Flash off and all other settings at the factory defaults unless noted otherwise.
Bottom Line
The Olympus Stylus SZ-16 is an affordable and versatile digicam. Sporting powerful and features that produce good image quality and decent performance, this camera will handle just about any situation with its 24x zoom lens. A great option at just $229.99.
Pick This Up If...
You are looking for a versatile and affordable digicam that can handle most any shooting situation. Up close to off in the distance, the SZ-16 is up for the challenge.
Olympus's new Stylus SZ-16 is a compact and feature-full point-n-shoot model that is one of the easiest to use that we have seen. Featuring a 24x optical zoom lens, Olympus's iHS technology, Dual image stabilization, full 1080p HD movie recording and a 3-inch LCD screen; you will not be disappointed with any aspect of the its features. The intelligent auto (iAuto) shooting mode is easy enough for anyone to use, while capturing stunning results. The wide and very versatile lens makes sure that you are prepared for any shooting situation, which is not something that most cameras can claim. It is available in two non-standard colors; silver and white, which guarantees that it will always stand out while you use it. Note: the black version of the SZ-16 you will see at times in this review only seems to be available to those in European markets.

Olympus's iHS system is a combination of their High Sensitivity Backside Illuminated CMOS image sensor and powerful TruePic V image processor. The two combine to provide an increase in image quality by helping to reduce noise. The powerful processor also helps the camera with increased burst shooting and scene selections in iAuto mode. Beauty Fix and the other editing features are also enhanced and enabled by the processor.

Very light with a solid feel, the SZ-16 is comfortable in your hand and is very easy to operate. A grip and thumb pad on the right side gives you confidence that you will not drop the camera when carrying it with one hand. Olympus has done an excellent job of keeping the camera controls clean and simple, leaving most of the settings to the easy to navigate menu system. The menu system offers an easy to use quick menu that is always visible on the LCD screen. The main menu is also laid out simply, allowing you to quickly find the settings that you are looking for. Framing and viewing your images as well as navigating the menus is done on the 3.0-inch, 460,000 dot LCD screen. With 5 levels of brightness and an anti-glare coating make it easy to see in just about every shooting situation.

Our outdoor sample images show us that the camera produces an overall good image, with an excellent exposure most of the time. We did see a little overexposure due to the overcast sky in a couple of our shots. We also noticed, when looking at 100% magnification, that even at ISO 100 there is a little noise within all of the images. In the high contrast areas, we did see some aberrations and a lot of softness around the edges of the images. Even with the aperture over f/8.0 the softness on the sides is concerning since it should not be from shallow depth of field. With it's incredibility versatile 24x, 25-600mm (35mm equivalent) zoom lens, you will have no trouble with any situation no matter how close or far away your subject is.

Looking at our indoor images supports what we saw in the outdoor images. There is a bit of noise in all of the images, which at the lower ISO settings, just softens and hides some of the finer details which we would like to see. This noise increases quickly though, further eliminating the fine details and bringing down the overall image quality. The noise level is okay for each setting up to ISO 800, anything after that should be avoided if possible.

Assisting with our low-light and indoor images is the small pop-up flash unit. While it is listed with a decent range at ISO 3200 (W), when you use a suitable ISO setting and start using the zoom, this range will shrink incredibly fast. It will still be very useful for shooting up close, but don't expect it to shoot across a room.

Capturing portraits with the SZ-16 is very easy thanks to the face detection software. Even with multiple faces in the frame, the camera detects them quickly and follows them with ease. This allows the camera to keep the focus and exposure set to provide the best possible images based on the faces and nothing else. This has made these sample images among the best that we have seen for this camera. They are sharp and very well exposed, giving us great color and smooth skin tones. The rest of the image is full of detail, including the eyes.

Our sample movie provides the same quality that we found in our still images with a little more noise than we would like to see. The camera is ready to record at all times with a touch of the dedicated video recording button, and it starts recording almost instantly after pressing it. Playback on both the camera and the computer is very smooth, making it an enjoyable viewing experience. Your movies audio is recorded on the camera's small built-in microphone. This is a sensitive mic and it will pick up all of the sounds that are around the camera, not necessarily what you are recording. You will also need to be careful where you record from, as background noises will add audio noise to your movies. Things like the wind and the pools air handling system in our sample are examples of things to stay away from if possible.

Powering the SZ-16 is a 3.7V, 925mAh rechargeable Li-Ion battery. Olympus claims that this battery is capable of providing up to 300 images on a single charge. This seems possible as we were able to capture approx. 150 images and several short videos while completing our tests with the battery icon still showing two of the three bars. A small group of these images were captured in continuous and burst shooting modes. While this is a decent battery life, it will go fast if you are out on a full day of shooting, or plan on using it on multiple day adventures; so you will want to have a backup. Unfortunately Olympus does not include an external battery charger, just a USB cable and adapter that allows you to charge it within the camera. This makes it a little more difficult to keep a spare charged and ready, but not impossible.

Bottom Line - If you are looking for a versatile and affordable digicams that will be ready for any situation, whether shooting up close or something in the distance, then the Olympus Stylus SZ-16 may be the camera for you. Featuring a 16-Megapixel BSI CMOS, powerful image processor and a 24x optical zoom lens (25-600mm, 35mm equivalent), this camera is armed and ready to handle most any shooting situation. Image quality is also very good for a super-zoom camera in this price range, exhibiting just a tad bit more noise than we'd like to have seen; however this is common with cameras in this category and price point. With a MSRP of US $229.99, the SZ-16 is a great choice for those wanting versatility and quality, without breaking the bank.

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